Welcome to my first ever installment of “Oh No You Didn’t!”, where we address costume bloopers and how to fix them. I’ll give you fair warning: This is going to be a stinky post!
So, if you read my blog for any length of time, you will discover that I love eBay. Like, with a deep, deep love. As in, I put eBay gift cards on all my birthday and Christmas gift wish lists and probably will until the end of time.
I have bought hundreds of items on eBay and have had positive transactions 99% of the time. Today, I am going to talk about that lousy 1%. Every so often, an item arrives in a condition that does not match its listing description or pictures…Or the seller conveniently forgot to mention that they are a smoker or that the item was formerly owned by a smoker.
Like in this instance. I stumbled upon a seller who had several listings for these ADORABLE little girl dresses from the 70s. They were $3-$5 each. I excitedly placed my bids, won the items, and couldn’t wait for the package to arrive! When it did, a distinctive, acrid aroma wafted through the packaging. Cigarette smell. Oh boy.
However, this is not my first rodeo. I bought my first, smokey vintage dress on eBay back in my college days. I wore it to the annual theatre awards event at my university. (It was like our own, mini version of the Tony Awards on Broadway.)
Isn’t she pretty? I loved wearing this darling, 1970s Gunne Sax dress. (Which goes to show that I have been marching to the beat of my own vintage-costume-loving drum for quite some time.)
The same thing happened. I opened the package and did a gasp of delight at what the dress looked like, which then turned into a retching cough when I got a load of what it smelled like.
See that tag? It’s an authentic Gunne Sax! With the help of Google, I emptied a plastic storage bin, procured some vinegar, and soaked the dress in my dorm bathroom. (Sorry, roommates!)
It worked like a charm! The vinegar knocked out the cigarette smoke smell and also the “old clothes” smell that vintage clothing inevitably emits over time.
I will now show you how to neutralize the odors in your own smelly finds! (Or things that you already own that get smelly. Life happens.)
1. Gather your supplies!
- White distilled vinegar (I buy the 2-pack at Costco because I use it in our laundry ALL THE TIME.)
- Measuring cup (If you HAVE to measure stuff. I rarely do!)
- Large bucket or sink (I used our laundry room utility sink.)
- Rubber gloves
- Stanky clothes (Because “stanky” is more fun to say than “stinky”.)
2. Place smelly garment(s) in your sink or bucket.
- Avoid color-bleeding mishaps by only soaking clothes of a similar color together.
- Here, I soaked the dresses with red tones together.
- I soaked the white dress and the blue dress in their own buckets.
3. Fill the sink with warm water until the clothes are submerged.
4. Measure or eyeball about one cup of vinegar per garment (or per gallon of water) and pour it in.
5. Put on your rubber gloves and swish everything around to mix.
6. Leave the garments to soak for several hours. I usually leave them overnight.
- Safety first: Place your buckets on top of the washer.
7. Check your garment(s). Your soak job is done if they reek of vinegar instead of smoke!
8. Wring out the garments and wash them according to their washing directions.
9. Take a whiff before you toss the clothes in a dryer! Do those clothes smell fresh?
- Yes? Hooray! Go ahead and air or machine dry them.
- No? Repeat steps 2 – 8.
I can’t wait to pop these dresses on our little girls for a 1970s family photo shoot! (Annika already wore the tiny, red dirndl in our Bavarian-themed family photos.) So, I have lots of exciting things to write about in the new year, and some of it will involve these rehabilitated dresses!